We have yet to fully plumb the depths of the catastrophe at sea last month after five men, traveling by submersible vessel, attempted to reach the bottom of the ocean to explore the remains of the famed Titanic ship disaster, but perished as the vessel imploded.
Perhaps you, too, were waiting anxiously to hear if the five who undertook this dangerous endeavor could be saved after communication was cut off partway through their descent.
With much still to unpack about this tragedy, the story can, at the very least, begin to help us learn more about our own hearts, humanity and God.
Sadly, it seems now that both the Titanic and the Titan were doomed from the start, and warnings about the soundness of each ignored.
In James Cameron’s epic 1997 film, “Titanic,” the phrase “God himself could not sink this ship” emerged. Whether this sentiment was actually uttered during the Titanic’s failed voyage, it does seem that, both with the original vessel and the submersible, we find an element of man not understanding his limits.
Simply put, we will never be smarter than the God who created us.
During a recent daily-Mass homily at Sts. Anne and Joachim parish, Fr. Luke Meyer noted that while modern man reaches for a Utopian society, the pursuit will never be realized; not in this earthly life. The only true utopia will not be accessible until the afterlife, should we reach the heavenly shores.
It’s not that we shouldn’t strive for perfection, but that in that, we need to recognize our natural, God-given bounds. Which begs the question, regarding these two disasters, what motivated the people involved? Did something blind them to the limits they sought to break? If so, what? The answer is likely different for each individual.
Perhaps the most compelling piece of this story for me centers on the 19-year-old son, Suleman Dawood, who perished. As a mother of sons on either side of that tender, young-adult age, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this one precious life. When I heard that the young man was “terrified” about the trip, according to his aunt, but ultimately acquiesced because his father wanted him to accompany him—and it was Father’s Day—my heart sank to its own depths.
This angle of the story will haunt me for a while. A mother and wife has lost her world. And why? Because it seemed like a good idea? That it would be headline-grabbing?
But we truly can’t judge the hearts of the men who took this daring exploration, and it horrified me further to read that some had a callous response to the deaths, hinting that these men, covered in wealth, deserved to die. Have we sunk so low that we so easily wish death on one another?
I’d rather pray for their souls and heed the warning. Our lives can end in a millisecond, as did those of this small crew. Will we spend our remaining milliseconds loving God and others?
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 17, 2023.]